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Dominicans for Justice and Peace and its co-sponsors, Dominican Leadership Conference, Caritas Internationalis, Canadian Council of Churches, International Presentation Association: Sisters of the Presentation, Congregations of Saint Joseph, Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, in conjunction with Franciscans International, are seriously concerned about the ongoing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Iraq. Dominicans have lived in Iraq for over 250 years where they work with and among the Iraqi people. They are involved in the fields of education, health care including running hospitals and in other forms of humanitarian endeavors.

The major long-term issue is the recovery and reconstruction of a devastated country. One of the key factors for this is the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty whereby the Iraqi people can take full responsibility for the re-building of their society. One of the necessary steps to restore a representative and sovereign Iraq is the guaranty of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities

We are seriously concerned about the grave lack of security and the ongoing disrespect for the rule of law in the country. Both factors create instability and cause irreparable harm to the people. In addition, the people of Iraq still bear the scars of being cut off for a number of years from the rest of the world, having suffered through 13 years of sanctions and destructive wars. It has been twelve months since the last war, yet the country is still reeling from the ravages and the destruction caused by the conflict and its aftermath.

Thelack of security in Iraq has an impact on a daily basis on the lives of people. The insecurity creates an atmosphere of vulnerability and hopelessness. In Iraq, the most common and trivial actions of daily life can now lead to instant death, near fatal injuries and total disruption of the lives of the population. Further, while the Occupying Forces are also called upon to ensure the security of their own troops, they are not justified in taking indiscriminate actions that endanger the lives and security of civilians and protected persons. Their mission and legal obligation, especialy acording to the Fourth Geneva Convention, is to protect them.

We express concern about the attacks against humanitarian and other organizations that lead to the loss of so many innocent people. In this respect, we express deep regret over the tragic and untimely death of Sergio Vieira de Mello who along with 22 UN colleagues were killed most tragically in an act of terrorism against the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, on August 18, 2003. Sergio’s death was a great loss to the human rights community and a terrible setback in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction of Iraq.

Impunity contributes to maintaining a high level of tension, fear and anxiety within the Iraqi population. Given the absence of a functioning legal system, there is no possibility of recourse on the part of the victims against the misconduct or the offences committed by the members of the Occupying Forces and others. Another cause of the rampant impunity is the absence of a sovereign authority that can ensure justice and re-establish security. Furthermore impunity re-enforces the sentiment of hostility of the people against the Coalition forces. It therefore contributes to the violence that hinders the work for the reconstruction in the country.

The role of the international community in providing assistance through aid programs is not to substitute itself to the Iraqis sovereign authorities but to help them bring about the conditions for the material, economic and psychological reconstruction of the country.

To rebuild their country, the Iraqi people need to recover control over their own future as recognition of their dignity. They also need both financial and technical assistance from the international community through their financial institutions to assist them to take responsibility and leadership for the reconstruction of their own country. In this respect there is a great need for re-training of administrative and professional staff.
In another area, there is need to re-establish the networks of energy, transport and communications. Electrical power remains in disrepair. One year after the arrival of the occupying forces, the telephone network is still not fully operative. All this has consequences on people’s daly lives and on the economy of the country.

One of the primary aims of financial aid must be to produce a real effect on the living conditions of the people. Aid programs must lead to creating more employment and jobs, which is one of the necessary conditions for allowing access to security, as well as associating and incorporating more fully the Iraqi people in the rebuilding their country.

One year after the arrival of the Occupying Forces, the right to health of the people of Iraq is far from being fulfilled. There is still a great lack of medication and supplies of all kinds, especialy for the treatment of chronic illnesses. A real threat to the health of the next generation is caused by the lack of proper sanitation and the ongoing effects of the environmental pollution caused by the war.

The international community, in cooperation with the Iraqi people can alleviate the situation in various ways. For example, it can cooperate with the Iraqi authorities in the reorganizing of the importation and distribution of medical supplies in the country. Moreover, it can provide opportunities for training in new techniques and methods in the medical field.

Following thirteen years of sanctions, the right to education remains seriously jeopardized. The educational system in Iraq is in disarray. There is a great need for the development of new programs and the training of teachers in new technologies. Joint exchanges of professors and partnerships between universities could contribute to reestablishment of links with the external world.

To ensure that a sovereign Iraqi government is established, based on the respect for the rule of law and on a fair and equitable justice system, the international community should provide electoral assistance as well as help in reorganizing and renewing of national, regional and local administrations.

Additionally, it should also provide assistance to the Iraqi authorities for the re-establishment and re-enforcement of the legal institutions and offer assistance for the training of justice and police personnel.

In a restored sovereign Iraq, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities also need to be guaranteed, including the right of religious freedom and the right to education

Recommendations :

Dominicans for Justice and Peace and its co-sponsors, Dominican Leadership Conference, Caritas Internationalis, Canadian Council of Churches, International Presentation
Association:

Sisters of the Presentation, Congregations of Saint Joseph, Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, in conjunction with Franciscans International, therefore recommend that:

1. The international community ensure that the Occupying Powers in Iraq uphold and respect the rules of international law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and non-combatants.

2. The international community assist in ensuring that a representative and sovereign Iraqi government is established since it is one of the conditions for achieving peace and security in the country.

3. The international community ensure that in providing assistance through aid programs that it does not substitute itself to the Iraqi sovereign authorities but that these programs help the authorities to bring about the conditions for the material, economic and psychological reconstruction of the country.

4. The international financial assistance focus on areas such as the re-building of the infrastructure of the country, on needs in the areas of health and education as well as providing assistance for the re-establishment and re-enforcement of legal institutions and the training of justice and police personnel.

5. The international community contribute to the re-establishment of bilateral relations in matters of aid and cooperation.

6. The United Nations should have a key role in the period of transition to a representative and sovereign government in Iraq and that the Commission on Human Rights continue to monitor the human rights situation in the country.

Oral, Written or Summary: 
Meeting: 

co04

United Nations: Commission on Human Rights: 60th Session, UN Geneva: 15 March – 23 April 2004:
Meeting Year: 
2004
Meeting Name: 
United Nations: Commission on Human Rights: 60th Session, UN Geneva: 15 March – 23 April 2004: